Welcome to USCIRF

  • USCIRF's Vice Chairwomen, Sandra Jolley and Kristina Arriaga, met with Pastor Andrew Brunson in Turkey this week.  Pastor Brunson has been detained for a year on fabricated charges.  During his meeting he told commissioners, "Knowing that I am not forgotten is important to me."  More here.

  • The U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) is disappointed by the decision to permanently lift U.S. trade and economic sanctions on Sudan. In June, USCIRF wrote Secretary of State Rex Tillerson urging him to maintain sanctions on Sudan, stating that “Sudan has not ‘sustained positive actions’ with regard to religious freedom.” More here.

  • The Commission believes that when dis­cussing blasphemy, it is important to focus on the real people impacted, and not just the laws themselves. This report, Selected Blasphemy Cases -- highlights a selection of individuals imprisoned or imperiled because of blasphemy laws.  See USCIRF’s report on global blasphemy laws here.

  • On Oct. 11, USCIRF Vice Chairwoman Kristina Arriaga testified to the National Security Subcommittee of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform on the U.S. government role in protecting international religious freedom.  Read her testimony here.

  • Welcome to the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) webpage! Click here to learn more about the work of USCIRF. Click here to learn more about the Commissioners of USCIRF.

  • "The deprivation of [Rohingya Muslims’] rights—by both government and societal actors—is one of the most profound human rights tragedies of the 21st Century." USCIRF Report December 2016

  • Elizabeth Cassidy from the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) will present the Commission’s findings on the world’s blasphemy laws, demonstrating that rather than protect religious freedom, they often invite abuse and lead to violence.  USCIRF Analyst Andrew Kornbluth and other speakers will also discuss the effects of blasphemy laws.

  • USCIRF released a new report on July 17, 2017 titled Women and Religious Freedom: Synergies and Opportunities. While a common misperception persists that women’s rights to equality and freedom of religion or belief (FoRB) are clashing rights, the two are actually indivisible and interrelated, the new report finds.

  • A Right for All:  Freedom of Religion or Belief in ASEAN examines the religious freedom-related challenges in the region that transcend country borders and emphasizes the strategic important of robust U.S. engagement.

  • On October 2, USCIRF's Elizabeth Cassidy, Director of International Law and Policy, and Tina Mufford, Senior Policy Analyst,  met with Malaysian Senator Datuk Paul Low (4th from L), Ambassador Tan Sri Zulhasnan Rafique (3rd from R), and other Malaysian officials.

    Read USCIRF’s annual report chapter about Malaysia here.

What's New at USCIRF

Blasphemy laws violate fundamental human rights, including the right to free speech. This panel will present the status of blasphemy laws in the world today, and examine the use of these laws in some countries to stifle dissent. read more
Kristina Arriaga, the Vice Chairwoman of the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF), testified before the National Security Subcommittee of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee. Speaking on the “government’s role in protecting international religious freedom,” Arriaga advised the Members that “we ignore religious freedom violations at our peril and must address challenges proactively.”   read more
Kristina Arriaga, USCIRF Vice Chairwoman, testified before the National Security Subcommittee of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee concerning the government’s role in protecting international religious freedom. read more
“USCIRF is disappointed that the White House chose to lift the Sudan sanctions,” said USCIRF’s Chairman Daniel Mark.  “Sudan is an egregious violator of religious freedom and should again be designated a CPC." read more

Pastor Andrew Brunson
Photo credit: fpclw.org

USCIRF's Vice Chairwomen, Sandra Jolley and Kristina Arriaga, met with Pastor Andrew Brunson in Turkey this week.  Pastor Brunson has been detained for a year on fabricated charges.  During his meeting he told commissioners, "Knowing that I am not forgotten is important to me." read more

Religious Prisoners of Conscience Project

USCIRF's Religious Prisoner of Conscience Project highlights individuals imprisoned for exercising their freedom of religion or belief, as well as the dedicated advocacy of USCIRF Commissioners working for their release. Please click the photos below for more information on the prisoners, and the Commissioners' efforts on their behalfs.
 
Featured Religious Prisoner:

Click here for information on Bagir Kazikhanov and religious freedom conditions in Russia.
Click here to watch the launch of the Religious Prisoners of Conscience Project. 
 

USCIRF Religious Prisoners of Conscience

 

 

Prisoner of Conscience List

Click here for USCIRF's Prisoner of Conscience List which is mandated by Public Law 114-281, the Frank R. Wolf International Religious Freedom Act.

USCIRF Focus: Blasphemy Laws

Respecting Rights? Measuring the World’s Blasphemy Laws catalogs the offending laws found in a wide range of countries. In some countries, blasphemy laws are enforced weakly, if at all, yet such laws, “in both theory and practice, harm individuals and societies.” The report details laws spanning the globe from countries such as Canada and Switzerland to Iran and Indonesia with penalties ranging from fines to death. Surprisingly, more than one-third of the world’s nations have blasphemy laws today.

Selected Blasphemy Cases seeks to put a human face on blasphemy laws. The individuals highlighted here are only a sample of those who have been negatively impacted by blasphemy laws. For some we have pictures, but for many we do not. Read their stories, the charges against them, and their sentences to better understand the devastating impact of these laws and the need for repeal.

Women and Religious Freedom: Synergies and Opportunities

While a common misperception persists that women’s rights to equality and freedom of religion or belief (FoRB) are clashing rights, the two are actually indivisible and interrelated, as shown in Women and Religious Freedom: Synergies and Opportunities. FoRB is neither a right of “religion” as such, nor an instrument for support of religiously phrased limitations on women’s rights to equality. Harmful practices affecting women and girls cannot be accepted as legitimate manifestations of FoRB because the assertion of one human rights claim cannot be used to extinguish other rights.

Open Letter from USCIRF Vice Chair Sandra Jolley to Gulmira Imin on the 8th Anniversary of Her Arrest

Dear Gulmira:I write to you as July 14th comes to an end.  On that day eight years ago, as you know all too well, Chinese government officials arrested you.  While this open letter may never reach you, I want you to know that as a Commissioner on the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom, I am ardently advocating on your behalf.

Testimony of Commissioner Tenzin Dorjee on "Tibet: Freedom of Religion"

In his testimony Commissioner Dorjee discussed his personal story of fleeing Tibet and the Chinese government's repression of Tibetan Buddhists, including the demolition of the Larung Gar Buddhist academy and the detention of religious prisoners of conscience. Commissioner Dorjee also provided recommendations to the U.S. Congress and Administration. 

SUDAN: USCIRF Urges Secretary of State to Maintain Sanctions

The U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) released a May 30 letter to Secretary of State Rex Tillerson calling on him to “take steps to address severe violations of religious freedom and other human rights” in Sudan.  In the letter, USCIRF called on Secretary Tillerson to maintain existing sanctions on the Sudanese government due to deteriorating religious freedom conditions.

USCIRF Elects Daniel Mark as Commission Chairman; Sandra Jolley and Kristina Arriaga as Vice Chairs

At its June 13 meeting, USCIRF commissioners elected Daniel Mark as the Commission’s new chairman.  Dr. Mark is an assistant professor of political science at Villanova University and battalion professor for Villanova’s Navy ROTC unit. In response to his election, Chairman Mark said, “I am greatly honored by the confidence shown in me by my fellow commissioners. I look forward to enhancing USCIRF’s role and voice in monitoring violations and recommending ways U.S. policy can play an even stronger role.” 

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About the Commission

Who We Are

USCIRF is an independent, bipartisan U.S. federal government commission, the first of its kind in the world, that monitors the universal right to freedom of religion or belief abroad.

What We're About

Inherent in religious freedom is the right to think as we please, believe or not believe as our conscience leads, and live out our beliefs openly, peacefully, and without fear.

We are about freedom

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